Shades of Diversity in Public Relations

Richard D. Waters, Ph.D., University of San Francisco

$9,500 grant

This study examines the experiences and concerns of under-represented populations in public relations through a national survey of PRSA members and targeted sampling of other industry groups, such as BPRS, HPRA, the Council of PR Firms, The Arthur Page Society and others, to diversify the sample to be more representative of the entire industry.

The second phase of the survey includes in-depth interviews with key African American and Hispanic to understand how the industry should proceed in reaching out to these groups and recruiting them into the field.

A quantitative national survey will be used to provide much needed benchmarking data in regard to how under-represented populations view the industry and their careers. The in-depth interviews and/or focus groups will be conducted to gather rich suggestions on what can be done to make public relations a more enticing career option for under-represented populations.

The quantitative study began in late 2013. Using those results, an interview guide and structure will be created and tested. Personal interviews are being conducted in the Spring-Summer of 2014. The final report will be presented to the Foundation on September 30, 2014. Findings will be distributed by the PRSA Foundation, presented at major conferences and published in leading journals.

Dr. Waters is an assistant professor in the School of Management at the University of San Francisco, where he teaches public relations management, social media marketing, and media relations. His research focuses on strengthening stakeholder relations, specifically with the public relations function, and the use of new technologies to impact external stakeholders.

View the full report here